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When many hear the word Blockchain, they think immediately of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This is an unfortunate mistake. You can classify types of Blockchains across two dimensions:

  • Permissionless v. Permissioned: “Permissionless” Blockchains allow people to act anonymously (you do not know their identity), while in “permissioned” Blockchains, the people transacting are known.
  • Public v. Private: In “public” Blockchains, anyone can send a transaction, while in “private” Blockchains, only people who are approved to participate can.

In our past blog post, we likened Blockchain to Google Docs, in which one document “in the sky” is altered in real time by multiple people. Taking that analogy one step further, we could say that in a public Google Doc, anyone would be allowed to make changes, while in a private set-up, only those you invite can edit. In a permissionless document, people could make changes without your knowing who made those changes, while in a permissioned document, you would see the names of each person who made each edit.

“Permissionless, public” Blockchains

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are well-known examples of “permissionless, public” Blockchains. They are like the “Wild West” in which anyone can send a transaction anonymously. This kind of Blockchain network is what Blockchain was originally designed as. The creator of Blockchain, a person or group working under the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto, designed Blockchain to liberate people from formal currencies controlled by central banks.

But such cryptocurrencies have also facilitated fraud. Many of the ransomware incidents that have made headlines were facilitated by the fact that perpetrators could accept payment anonymously, with no traceable bills or electronic fingerprints to follow. Also, as the price of one Bitcoin rose to $1,000 and even $20,000, it became nearly useless as a currency for payments. How many things can you buy in increments of $20,000?

For these reasons, some people consider cryptocurrencies a failure.

“Permissioned, private” Blockchains

Now, sitting at the other extreme of such “Wild West” Blockchain networks, you will find “permissioned, private” networks. In this model, only trusted participants may transact, and their identities are known. In other words, only people that are invited into the club are allowed to transact with others, and when you transact with someone, you know who they are.

Such “permissioned, private” networks have one powerful advantage: Since they don’t require “mining” (see “What is mining?” below), the cost to clear a transaction is much lower. This is a big deal, because the adoption of Blockchain hinges on whether transacting on it costs less than the cost of transacting using the current standard multiple-ledger system.

It is this form of Blockchain that is taking hold within industries: groups of industry players, coming together, to create Blockchain-enabled networks that increase the efficiency of the entire industry. Examples include Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, Quorum by JP Morgan, and Hyperledger Fabric.


Between “permissionless, public” and “permissioned, private” lies a spectrum of possible Blockchain networks. It’s a mistake to equate Blockchain with cryptocurrencies and other “permissionless, public” networks. The most valuable and immediate opportunities lie at the other end of the Blockchain spectrum.

What is mining?

When two people engage in a transaction, a third person (or people) does the “witnessing”. They validate the transaction. In a permissionless, public network, the person doing the witnessing needs to get paid for that work. That is called mining, an incentive to participate to keep the network honest. In a permissioned network, one needs no mining because the cost of “witnessing” is less because participants have an innate incentive for the network to work. 

“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?